FRISCO, Texas – How times flies.
Seems as if it was just yesterday that we were debating why time ran out on the Cowboys' 2021 encouraging season to that point, and here it is, already April Fool's Day on Friday.
Already the annual B.C. (Before COVID) Pro Day workouts have begun, and just around the corner are those national and Dallas Day visits at The Star.
Already we're being inundated with Mock Drafts, think one already having moved on to 3.0.
Owners meetings are in the book.
The NFL Draft is but four weeks away.
And for some reason, these weekly shots are piling up faster than those springtime hills of fire ants in these parts.
So, let's get it on.
- Pure OT: Credit to the NFL Competition Committee and at least 24 of the owners for altering the playoff overtime rules, and not doing so by yucking up the game into some sort of skills competition. Play on with pure football. Each team gets a possession without mandatory two-point conversion nonsense or placing the ball somewhere on the field to start OT. Just play football. Last week on the Mick Shots podcast, I suggested just play a full quarter of football. Just like basketball. No goofy free-throw contest. Or the NHL playoffs, where a true sudden death is played no matter how long it takes for one team to score. Or MLS where two 15-minute periods are played, winner wins, and if not then goal-kick shootouts since the way soccer is played the game could go into the next day before someone actually scores a goal. Now for the NFL playoffs, possibly some unintended strategic consequences arise. If Team A wins the toss, do you receive or kick? Because if you receive and score a touchdown and kick the extra point to go up seven, what if Team B scores and converts a two-point conversion for the win? Or would Team A kick, so to have the final say after knowing what's needed to score, a field goal or touchdown, and then if to go for a knockout two if Team B simply scores a TD and kicks the extra point. Delicious, unless you are the head coach of the team that fails.
- Not Horse Trading: So, keep hearing how in the world did the Cowboys only get a fifth and switching sixth-round picks from Cleveland for Amari Cooper while KC got a Herschel Walker boatload of picks for Tyreek Hill? Here is the difference: First, the cat was out of the bag that the Cowboys were going to part with Cooper, one way or another. Right there, that reduces the price. Second, the Cowboys valued getting his $20 million base salary off their cap that the Browns inherited, thus lowering the compensation. Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, "Amari is a great player. He's a great player. Not a good one. He's one of the top players. We need to have that player if we are going to allocate that much money to him, and we made a decision that allocation would be better spent."
- WR Needy: The Cowboys didn't just lose Cooper. They also lost Cedrick Wilson, and as COO Stephen Jones pointed out this week at the meetings in West Palm Beach, Fla., likely will be missing the re-signed Michael Gallup for at least the first two to three games while he recovers from ACL reconstructive surgery. And if we add in fifth receiver Malik Turner, still unrestricted, then for at least the first month of the season here is what could be missing from last year's team: 160 catches for 2,061 yards and 19 TDs. That's 63 percent of WR receptions and 76 percent of WR touchdowns. That is why, even after signing veteran James Washington, using a high pick, as high as the first round, on a wide receiver should not be out of the question.
- Not Bitter: Listening to Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy, while they would have loved for defensive end Randy Gregory to re-sign with them – apparently he had agreed to do so before changing his mind to sign with Denver – they don't seem bitter or jilted by someone they were so faithful to during his seven seasons in Dallas. As Stephen Jones qualified, "We got three really good football players for one." Meaning using that proposed $6 million, 2022 first-year cap charge to nearly cover the first-year cap charges for signing Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler Jr. and Leighton Vander Esch, totaling $8.2 million for this year.
- Finally Said It: McCarthy settled this debate over Micah Parsons: Is he a linebacker or should he be a full-time defensive end since he finished with a team-high 13 sacks? Answer: A linebacker, because "I know as an offensive guy you are helping me if you line him up at one position every time, and we've talked about this from Day 1. We want him moving around. He is a target issue. He's an important player, and we've got to make sure we are moving him around." And for those wanting to look inside his 13 sacks, instead of just saying, gosh, Parsons has to play defensive end because he had 13 sacks, McCarthy points out he had seven sacks lining up as a linebacker and six sacks lining up as a true defensive end. End of debate.
- Ailing Big Cat: Send up some prayers for Cowboys Hall of Fame offensive tackle Rayfield Wright, just 76, but having some serious health problems. "Big Cat," though more appropriately "a gentle cat," is a six-time Pro Bowler and winner of two Super Bowls, but having played in all five for the Cowboys in the 1970s during his 13 seasons.
- Commodores? The first time I had to type Washington Commanders, it came out Commodores for some reason. Bet Lionel Richie would have appreciated that. And you know, on second thought, kind a like Commodores better.
- Shorties: When Stephen Jones was asked about currents needs, the first thing he said was, "Right now we probably need a kicker" after cutting veteran Greg Zuerlein, with hopes of signing him back to a lesser contract only for the Jets to recently sign the free agent … When asked about the June 1 release of starting right tackle La'el Collins, Stephen said, "You've got to make tough decisions and obviously Terence Steele played into that," meaning the Cowboys are counting on the third-year tackle taking over on the right side and for considerably less money … When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if team locker rooms will be open again to the media after being closed for COVID precautionary measures the past two seasons, his communications director Brian McCarthy jumped in with a yes … With the NFL announcing Jacksonville will play host to a regular-season game in London these next three years, let's just point out the Cowboys are scheduled to play at Jacksonville this season. Maybe, could be, a return overseas eight years later. Let's go.
Long time since we've heard from Jerry, Stephen and Mike, so this week's last word goes to Mike McCarthy when he was asked about the recently signed James Washington, the former Oklahoma State star wide receiver who became a second-round draft choice of Pittsburgh, where he's played the past four seasons. Washington never seemed to reach his potential with the Steelers, saying last week that he feels like he "left some meat on the bone" over those years and has a lot more to give.
Said McCarthy when asked about Washington, "He is someone (the Cowboys) had a very high opinion, a really good grade on into the draft, and just having some conversations with the people in Pittsburgh, they definitely felt he was a young man that probably needs a clean opportunity.
"And just having a chance to meet with him, he comes in on that first Monday – and he just got done working on the ranch the whole day Sunday – the whole vibe of James and the way he presents himself and just the reputation he left in Pittsburgh has been very impressive. I can't tell you, I'm excited for him. I'm excited for not only how he helps our receiver room, I'm excited where I think he's at that point in his career he feels like he can take a big step, and I think he will have that opportunity here."
What more could you ask for.